Thank you for much for honoring my Dad on Veterans Day with your wonderful story. While talking with my Dad about his World War II experiences in the late 1980s, I thought perhaps his heroics would have qualified him for a Bronze Star so I sent a request for the U.S. Army to review his record and consider awarding it to him. Dad was awarded a Bronze Star in 1989.
This is how Dad told me about the incident for which he was awarded the Bronze Star: "I was a sergeant and squad leader with the U.S. Army's Co. L, 3rd Battalion, 63rd Infantry, and our unit was engaged in heavy fighting against the Japanese at Lone Tree Hill at Hollandia, New Guinea. Staff Sergeant Howard Radcliffe was shot by a Japanese soldier who was in a tree. The medics were too frightened to run out onto the battlefield to rescue him because the Japanese often wouldn't kill a wounded soldier, but instead would wait until rescuers came so they could kill more at once. So I grabbed the litter (stretcher) and ran to him, pulling him out of the line of fire." Dad used his belt to apply a tourniquet and administered morphine. Then the medics came and helped.
Dad had many other unforgettable war experiences, among them:
He was in New Guinea and carrying a heavy load of large bamboo poles near their encampment when a command car driven by a brigadier general passed within 20 feet of him. Sitting in the passenger seat was General Douglas McArthur -- wearing his trademark cap and with his famous corncob pipe.
The invasion of Luzon in the Philippines is one of Dad's vivid memories of the war. "There were 872 ships in the convoy and we had four battleships backing us up. The battleships lobbed in shells as we landed three divisions abreast. That invasion was part of 112 days of continuous combat that my infantry division was involved in -- the longest of any division in the Pacific."
In 1945, Dad's infantry division was in a staging area in the Philippines, preparing to be shipped to Japan for the invasion -- which they knew would be horrific -- when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, ending World War II.
Dad said that one of the most beautiful sights he has ever seen was when he was shipped back to the U.S. after the war. He was on deck when the ship approached the San Francisco harbor. There, in large white letters on the side of a hill by the Golden Gate, he saw the words, "Welcome Home."
Thanks again for so kindly honoring Dad and other World War II veterans with your Veterans Day story. -- Carla Knutson Biermaier, Eden Prairie